What Are Medicare Supplement Plans in New Hampshire?
While Original Medicare covers a lot of your healthcare costs, it doesn’t cover everything. Medicare Parts A and B both have deductibles and coinsurance, which can add up to a lot of money out of pocket. Medicare Supplement Insurance plans (also known as Medigap) can help New Hampshire residents with these costs.
These plans are offered by Medicare-approved private insurers. They are standardized and designated by letter. That means a Plan N from one health insurance company has exactly the same benefits as a Plan N from another company. Each company sets its own prices, however, so it’s still important to get quotes from multiple insurance providers.1
Note: Medigap policies don’t include prescription drug benefits. For that coverage, consider buying a Medicare Part D plan.2
What You Need to Know
The Medigap Open Enrollment Period lasts for six months. It starts the month you’re age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
Plans F, G and N are popular Medicare Supplement plan options. Plan F is no longer being sold to people who are new to Medicare.
Plan G premiums for New Hampshire residents who are male, 65 years old and don’t use tobacco range from $153 to $330 per month. Premiums for female residents with a similar profile range from $139 to $330 per month.
When Can You Enroll in Medigap?
Medicare beneficiaries can apply for a Medigap policy at any time. However, the best time to buy a policy is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. During this period, insurance companies can’t use medical underwriting to turn you down for a policy or charge you more based on your health history.
Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period lasts for six months. It starts the month you’re age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
Outside of open enrollment, you’re subject to underwriting unless you have guaranteed issue rights. These are special enrollment periods during which insurance companies must sell you a Medigap policy and cover your preexisting conditions without charging you more.3
You typically have guaranteed issue rights when you lose other insurance coverage. These situations include:
- Losing your Medicare Advantage (MA) plan because your plan is leaving Medicare.
- Moving out of your MA plan’s service area.
- Losing employer or union coverage.
- Losing your Medigap policy because the company goes bankrupt.
You also have guaranteed issue rights if you joined an Medicare Advantage plan when you first turned 65 and you decide within the first year that you want to switch to Original Medicare. You’re also entitled to return to your Medigap policy if you dropped it to join an MA plan and you decide to switch back within a year.4
What Are the Most Popular Medicare Supplement Plans?
Plan F has been the most popular Medigap plan because it covers Medicare Parts A and B deductibles and coinsurance, skilled nursing facility care coinsurance, and 80% of foreign travel emergency costs (subject to plan limits). In other words, it provides the most benefits. Over 50% of those with Medicare Supplement plans have Plan F.
Starting January 1, 2020, Plan F can no longer be sold to people new to Medicare. If you had Medicare before January 1, 2020, you may be able to enroll in Plan F as long as you’re accepted by the insurance company or you have guaranteed issue rights.
Plan G, also popular, is very similar to Plan F. The only difference is that Plan G doesn’t cover the Medicare Part B deductible, which is $233 in 2022.5 Seventeen percent of people who have a Medigap policy are enrolled in Plan G.
Plan N provides many of the same benefits as Plan F, and 10% of those with Medicare Supplement Insurance have this plan.6 Like Plan G, it doesn’t cover the Part B deductible. It also doesn’t cover Part B excess charges. Doctors who don’t accept Medicare assignment, which is the standard fee for Medicare services, may charge 15% more than the Medicare-approved amount.7 Plans F and G cover these charges, but Plan N does not.
Plan N also has a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and up to $50 for emergency room visits that don’t result in being admitted to the hospital.8
Apples to Apples
When choosing a Medigap plan, make sure you’re comparing the same plan — for example, Plan N — across multiple insurance providers so you’re making an apples-to-apples comparison on pricing.
How Do I Choose a Medicare Supplement Plan?
To make your choice, start by reviewing the plans and deciding which ones you’re interested in. Next, contact insurance companies or use the Medicare Plan Finder to compare how much those plans cost from different insurance companies licensed in New Hampshire. Be sure to compare the same plan — for example, Plan G — across multiple insurance providers so you’re making an apples-to-apples cost comparison.
Once you find a plan with a competitive price, consider the insurance company’s reputation. Look at customer reviews and/or ask family members or friends about their experiences with the company. If you’re comfortable with the price and the customer service, apply for a policy with the insurance company or use the Medicare Plan Finder.9
How Much Do Medigap Policies Cost?
Each company sets its own prices, and they may vary depending on your age, gender and your use of tobacco products. Plan G premiums, for example, for 65-year-old, male, non-tobacco-using New Hampshire residents range from $153 to $330 per month. Premiums for females with a similar profile range from $139 to $330.
Plan N premiums for male residents with a similar profile range from $113 to $252 per month, while premiums for female residents with a similar profile range from $102 to $252.
Medigap policy prices vary by insurance company because each sets its own rates. Companies can use one of three ways to set prices:
- Community-rated plans: These plans charge everyone the same premium, regardless of age or gender. Premiums may still increase due to inflation.
- Issue-age-rated plans: With this pricing method, premiums are based on your age when you purchase the policy. If you buy a policy when you’re younger, you’ll be charged less than if you buy one when you’re older. Premiums don’t increase due to age, but they may go up due to inflation.
- Attained-age-rated plans: Companies that use this method base the premium on your current age. Premiums will increase as you age and they may also go up due to inflation and other factors.10
What If You Want to Change Your Medigap Policy?
You can apply for a new Medicare Supplement plan at any time. Keep in mind that if you don’t have guaranteed issue rights, you could be turned down for a new plan or charged a higher premium because of medical underwriting.11
What Are Alternatives to a Medicare Supplement?
You could have Original Medicare without a Medigap plan, but this can leave you vulnerable to out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Advantage plans are another alternative that can help with these costs.
Also known as Medicare Part C, MA plans are all-in-one alternatives to Original Medicare. You receive your Medicare benefits through the plan, and most plans also have Part D (prescription drug) benefits. These plans may also have additional benefits like hearing, vision, and dental care.12
What Are Medicare Resources in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire residents have access to several Medicare resources. If you have questions about how Medicare works or need help deciding on a Medicare Supplement plan, you can contact ServiceLink, a free service that provides unbiased Medicare counseling by volunteers trained and certified under the national State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP. Call 1-866-634-9412 or visit the ServiceLink website to contact the Medicare specialist in your county.
The New Hampshire Insurance Department fields complaints about insurance companies and questions about coverage. Call the department at 800-852-3416 and/or file a complaint on its website.
If you have limited income and assets, you may qualify for Medicaid. Apply online for its free and low-cost healthcare services.
Ways to Get Help
New Hampshire residents can get free assistance in choosing a Medicare Supplement plan through ServiceLink or file a complaint through the New Hampshire Insurance Department.
A Medicare Supplement plan might be right for you if you have Original Medicare and want to minimize out-of-pocket costs. Review the plan options and get quotes from at least two or three private insurance companies. Once you’re ready to sign up, complete the application. Consider reviewing Medicare Part D plans as well unless you have other prescription drug coverage.